By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury
The Udhampur attack
Udhampur was another attempt at carrying out terrorist attacks in India after the recent Gurdaspur attack. Villagers in Jammu and Kasmir overpowered a young Pakistani terrorist who had taken them as hostages. Prior to that, two militants attacked a BSF convoy at Narsu Nallah, 16 kms away from Jammu, and killed two jawans injuring 13 more. As one of the assailants were shot by the troopers, the other escaped from the site with his weapon.
He took shelter in a nearby village 15kms away after flashing his AK-47. The unnerved residents fed the hungry intruder, later identified as Usman alias Quasim. When he sought help to escape, the men in the house grappled him and took his weapons away. “After we took his weapons away he pleaded ‘mujhe mat pakdo, mujhe mat pakdo’,” said the people of the house. The militant was handed over to the security forces that immediately secured him with a rope and took him away.
Police said that the young militant was linked to Lashkar e Taiba (LeT). According to sources, the Pakistani terrorist confessed that they were aiming at the Amarnath Yatra. He also mentioned that there were 16 terrorist modules working in Jammu and Kashmir at the time.
In New Delhi, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval apprised PM Modi of the incident. Even though there have been indications that the Pakistani would be flown back, the Home Ministry said that they would probe the matter.
“I am from Pakistan and my partner was killed in the firing but I escaped. Had I been killed, it would be Allah’s doing. There’s fun in doing this, I came here to kill Hindus,” the suspected Let operative said to the security forces.
This is the second attack on India within a span of a week. Before this, the attack on Punjab’s Gurdaspur claimed seven lives and threatened many. Terror attacks on India are becoming more frequent and effectively putting strains on Indo-Pak relations.
Is Pakistan Unwilling or Unable to deal with terror? Or are they also victims of global terror?
On the 6th of August, The Huffington Post published an article named “Pakistan tests Modi’s mettle with Gurdaspur terror attack” – the Post explained that Pakistan became alarmed at Narendra Modi’s election to be PM. This was because India gained its nuclear status during a BJP government. Moreover, the “brave India” Modi promised, gave hopes that his government would not indulge Pakistani predations and punish them instead, has alarmed the Pakistanis. “Last week, Pakistan tested the water by dispatching three terrorists into Gurdaspur via the Ravi rivers,” the Post wrote.
In the aftermath of the Ufa talks, the Gurdaspur attack and the attack on BSF troops have inevitably strained Indo-Pak relations besides garnering overwhelming attention. While Modi’s next steps regarding Pakistan are still awaited, it raises multiple questions regarding Pakistan’s capability, state policy, and the potential of handling 21st century terrorism.
India has always been vulnerable to terror attacks. From the 1993 Bombay blasts- that shook the country’s commercial capital- to the Varanasi Hanuman temple blasts, India has been a victim of innumerable terror attacks claiming innocent lives and damaging national pride. Every time Indo-Pak relations stabilize, there is an attack on India having adverse effects on the relations of the country. From the Samjhauta express followed by Kargil to the Ufa talks followed by the Gurdaspur attacks, this has been a discernible trend in Indo-Pak relations. This makes us question Pakistan’s role in the sponsorship of terrorism.
Are Pakistani terror groups a typical example of state sponsored terrorism? Or is the counter-terrorism policy by Nawaz Sharif a complete failure? The conclusion ultimately remains that Pakistan is either unable or unwilling to deal with terrorism.
To be fair, Pakistan has also been a victim to many terror attacks. Operation Zarb-e–Azb’s attack on the army run school added to the US strategy of bombing Afghanistan. This triggered President Musharaf to adopt a strong anti-terrorism policy. The irony was that, how was Pakistan to deal with terror? The Human Rights Watch documented how not only many government personnel and law enforcing agency were under red alert, but also how school buildings, Polio vaccination sites, and journalists were also being targeted by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. These instances question Pakistan’s capability to deal with terror.
There are reports revealing that the government is divided about anti-terror laws in Pakistan. This seriously questions Pakistan’s capability to deal with such challenges. “The National Crisis Management Cell and the National Counter Terrorism Authority are yet to draft a workable policy,” said a Pakistani Govt. official.
Terror attacks in Pakistan are mostly executed by the TTP and some other banned outfits. TTP is an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban group, and it aims to dismantle the Pakistani Government. The Peshawar attacks and the Islamabad blasts stand as apt examples of TTP potential in Pakistan. This makes Pakistan naturally concerned about restricting its outreach. However, other terrorist agencies continue to operate from within the country. According to a US report, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group behind the 2008 Bombay attacks, is continuing to “operate, train, rally, propagandize and fund-raise in Pakistan.”
“The Pakistani military undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan such as TTP, but did not take actions against other groups such as LeT,” the State Department said in its annual report. According to the report the Afghani Taliban and the Haqqani network still are allowed to operate within its borders. This raises concerns about possibilities of state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Even though after the US operations, Al-Qaeda’s core operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been seriously degraded but the attacks on Gurdaspur and Udhampur is a danger toll for India.
India is being victimized – Will Modi deliver promises of ‘Brave India’?
With the security of the country being de-stabilised, will Modi stand up to his promise of guarding India’s national pride?
In an Hindustan Times report it is stated that “in spite of provocation the Modi government is on course to engage with the Pakistani’s on the basis of the recent Ufa joint statement at a National Security Advisor level dialogue followed by talks between chiefs of border forces and the heads of national border operations.” The report also quoted unnamed officials as saying that “India believes it was part of an effort by the Pakistani military ISI complex to get New Delhi to call off the NSA level talks to be held in August.” The meeting between Modi and Sharif in Ufa happened after sustainable diplomatic feelers from Pakistan to the Indian government.
Modi still seems reluctant in calling off the talks and taking strict action against Pakistan as he had promised before elections. The PM says that until Pakistani state involvement is proved, relations should be handled with diplomatic cautiousness.
This is the second attack India has faced in one week. The common people’s safety is at risk. With terrorism effectively staining our national pride, will the Modi government respond?